What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the swelling and irritation of the plantar fascia tissue at the bottom of the foot, predominantly the heel. This typically does cause pain in the heel or surrounding tissue. For most people this irritation and pain is worse when they are inactive. They claim they feel the most pain after waking up in the morning or sitting for long periods of time. Studies have shown that plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain and occurs highest in individuals that are between 40-60 years old.
If you have pain in your heel that often goes away or subsides after 10-15 minutes of exercise or activity, that could be an indicator of plantar fasciitis. People also have said to have stiffness and spasms in the lower leg along with excessive pain during the first few steps in the morning.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
When I work on clients that have plantar fasciitis there is always a common trait, they have limited dorsiflexion (pointing your toes towards your knee) in the ankle joint. That tells me their calf muscles have limited flexibility, and anytime a muscle lacks flexibility, the amount of stress on the tendon increases. This dysfunction could also mean a lack of strength in calf muscles.
Other causes of plantar fasciitis include:
- Having Flat feet or high arch feet
- Improper footwear
A combination of any of those factors will increase the chance of developing plantar fasciitis because it can cause excessive loading of the plantar fascia. If you are experiencing pain in the heel or have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis it will be ideal for you to avoid jumping and running. If you are a female, I would definitely avoid wearing high heels. When you wear high heels your feet are stuck in plantarflexion, which essentially causes your calf muscles to be in a shortened position.
How to Manage Plantar Fasciitis
Be sure to do the follow exercises and release techniques within tolerance level. If you notice you feel more pain after performing these techniques, then discontinue. I would be sure to continue stretching the calves and soleus muscles though! Also, be sure to consult with your Doctor to be sure that it’s okay to exercise.
Use Lacrosse Ball to Roll Out Heel
This technique may help break up myofascial adhesions in the plantar fascia. Do this daily until you notice a significant difference in the level of tenderness. Then proceed to do it 2-3 times weekly
Use Hand Roller to Release Calf Tension
Do this prior to stretching. Your calf muscles will almost undoubtedly be tight if you do have plantar fasciitis. Break up the adhesions within the muscle tissue to allow for more range of motion when stretching.
Stretch Calf and Soleus Muscles
Lengthening these muscles will provide greater ankle dorsiflexion. Be sure to hold each stretch for 45-60 seconds. Point your toes inward, outward and straight up to target different areas of the muscles. Stretching should also be done daily!
Improve Ankle Strength with these Exercises
After you lengthen any muscle, it’s important to reinforce the strength and integrity of the additional tissue. These exercises will help strengthen the muscles and tendons that surround the ankle joint to provide more support in the joint and foot stability.
Exercises to Increase foot Strength
For this foot strengthening exercise, use your toes to squeeze the towel and bring it closer towards you. Be sure to perform this exercise on a hard surface, will not work well on carpet. Repeat 2-3 times. Foot strengthening is important for improving stability.
If you are experiencing these symptoms it would be wise to go see your Doctor to get further evaluation. I understand in these times how expensive a Doctor visit can be but medical bills from surgery will be even more expensive. So take the slightly cheaper route if you deem it necessary just to make sure it’s not something more serious.